Photographic Advice Wanted!

I’m moving into a new job soon and while the focus of that job will be writing, every decent story benefits from a few good pictures. Especially when the stories are about cars. I need to develop my photographic skills (pun intended!).

As I’ve read on nearly every single photobug website, the single biggest investment I can make is time and practice. It’s the eye behind the camera that has the biggest influence on the quality of the picture.

Nevertheless, I also want to invest some money in making sure I have the right gear to cover most situations. I’ve spent a lot of time on Ken Rockwell’s invaluable website and I think I’ve come up with a kit that’ll suit my needs. I thought I’d post my ideas here and lean on the expertise of readers who not only know their cameras, but also know their cars (because cars are mostly what I’ll be photographing).

My kit so far:

  • Nikon D750 full-frame (FX) digital SLR
  • Nikkor 50mm f1.8G lens
  • Nikkor AF-S 16-35mm 1:4G ED lens
  • Tamron 18-200 f3.8-5.6 lens
  • Nikon SB-700 Speedlight (flash)

The Tamron lens is the one that came with my old Nikon F60 film camera. It fits the D750 so I figured I may as well keep it, though it’s nowhere near as sharp as I’d imagine a good Nikkor lens of similar length would be.

The big question is what other lenses – or other equipment – should I invest in to make sure I’ve got as many bases covered as possible?

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I’m thinking mainly about lenses here. It’d be great to have two camera bodies. It saves a lot of time changing lenses. I’ve only got one camera body at the moment but it’s a new one and a good one. I can’t afford to spend money on another good full-frame body right now. My D750 will become a good second body one day, but that’s a few years down the track.

I’ve got a good wide-zoom lens in the 16-35mm and I’ve got an adequate 50mm prime lens (though I’d love to upgrade to the f1.4 if my budget allows).

The lenses I would like to add to my kit include a detailed below, along with the objective.

The Distance Dilemma.

I’d like to have some good tele-zoom capability, ideally up to 400mm. Given that a dedicated 400mm lens costs megabucks, I’m looking at a few options.

Option 1 – 70-200mm + teleconverter

Nikkor 70-200mm VR II AF-S G ED – Apparently a super-sharp zoom with good vibration reduction. Current cost is around $2,400 new or just under $2K second hand. There are other decent Nikon zooms out there but this one’s key because of the f2.8 speed and the desire to use a…..

Nikon TC-20E III (teleconverter) – Current cost is around $450 new. This teleconverter works without restriction on the 70-200mm lens. On some slower lenses, it doesn’t work so well. The teleconverter basically doubles the focal length of your lens (supposedly) without compromising your optics. That means my 70-200mm lens could be used as a 400mm lens, suitable for track photography.

Option 2 – 80-400mm

The 70-200mm + teleconverter is one option for getting decent 400mm performance. The other option is a Nikkor 80-400mm tele-zoom. I can pick up a refurbished one of these for about $1600 at the moment.

I tend to worry about lenses that have such a wide range. Are they going to be sharp all the way through?

The advantage for the 80-400mm is great 400mm performance with vibration reduction. The lower cost is handy, too. The disadvantage is slow auto-focus. A new AF-S model is out, but that’s around $1000 more.

The advantage for the 70-200mm + teleconverter option is great 400mm performance with vibration reduction, as well as having a super-duper 70-200mm lens for other work, when not using the teleconverter. It gives me much greater versatility with what I think would be greater quality, albeit at a higher cost.

The disadvantage is that the 70-200mm + teleconverter option will cost twice as much as the basic 80-400mm option.

The 70-200mm vs 80-400mm question is probably the biggest one I’m facing right now. Any advice or stories of previous experience would be much appreciated.

Macro

Nikon 200mm f/4D AF Micro – Around $2K new but I’ve found one second-hand for less than half of this amount. This is widely regarded as Nikon’s best Macro lens, which would be great for getting close-in on vehicle details. Nikon also sell a 105mm macro lens, which is probably the more popular option because it costs a bit less and will do the job for most people. The argument for the 200mm is that it’s long enough to let you get out of the way of your own lighting, which is important for macro. And as with cars, I tend to try and buy the best whenever I can, to save regrets later on.

UPDATE: I tried the 105mm macro today and I think it’ll do the job I need just fine. And it’ll likely save me some money. Good result.

The other….

The equipment above is my main consideration at the moment but if I can get it all for a decent price, I’d like to sneak in a Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lens. This is the super-sharp and super-fast upgrade from the f1.8 version I’ve got at the moment and I can get one for about $400 second-hand.

As you can tell, I don’t mind buying second-hand if I feel confident that the lens is good condition. You’ve got to treat these lenses with reasonable contempt to really damage them and a lot of people buy a specialty lens to use it just a few times before realising it’s not for them. Buying these lenses brand new just isn’t within my budget.

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Over to you. If you’ve got any experience or advice, I’d love to hear it.

Brief Notes: Porsche 928S

After just three short months – well, two and a half, actually – my Porsche 928S has been sold and picked up by its new owner.

The Sprint and the Brumby both go tomorrow. As I said earlier in the week, change is afoot. More to come later.

To the 928, though…..

I never wrote much about the 928 here. That’s probably because I didn’t drive the car enough to connect with it and form a full opinion. That’s partly because of the cost of driving it regularly. It’s partly because of my Alfa Sprint, which I absolutely adore. And it’s partly because I knew I’d be selling it soon, from 2 weeks after I bought it (a new job came up in early March, one that will require a few significant changes).

I expected the 928 to feel faster than it did. It was certainly brisk, but I was probably seduced by my previous 968CS into thinking that the 928 could be brutal. I fully expected it to be an amazingly capable and genteel GT car – which it is – but I also expected some animal. I just didn’t get that animal feeling as much as I would have liked.

There are a few areas where the 928 is truly exceptional.

The first of these is the handling. The 928 is a burly beast with a big V8 lump at the front and yet it handles like a car with half the weight and half the cylinders. A GT car is supposed to make its money on comfortable long-range trips from city to city. The 928 does that with aplomb. But it’s the 928’s ability to carve its way along a B-road that really surprised me. Just fantastic.

The second is the styling. The 928 bleeds presence. When you look it, try to remember that it was designed in the early-mid 1970’s. There were a lot of very nice looking cars drawn at that time, but the 928 is unique in that the other cars still look like outstanding classic cars from the 1970’s. The 928 still looks quite contemporary today.

I’d wanted a 928 for a long time and I’m glad I scratched that particular itch. I wish it hadn’t cost me quite so much money – selling a car that’s not in demand when it’s not 100% and you’re pressed for time is a costly mix – but I’m still pleased enough to have had the experience. It’s an experience that I won’t try to replicate soon, and one that I’ll do my best to learn from.

And on that note, here are a few pictures. Sadly, not enough.

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Classics By The Beach – May 2015

It’s the first Sunday in May and that means Classics By The Beach. For me, it was a significant Classics, too, because it’ll most likely be my last Classics I’ll visit for some time. Circumstances are changing and it’ll involve a move away from Hobart. More on that in another post, later on.

For now, though, I’ve got some cars for you to look at.

It’s not often a Ferrari Dino gets outshone at Classics, but I think we can say it happened today. The car of the month for May 2015 is one of the red ones across the way. It’s very, very rare and makes for a great story.

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The car off to the left is an AC Ace. Don’t feel bad if you’re not familiar with them. I wasn’t either.

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You’re probably familiar with the AC Cobra, however.

The big V8 engined Cobra was conceived by Carroll Shelby and an original AC Cobra is still the stuff of automotive dreams for many. Replicas are everywhere. Actually, I’d love to know how many replicas exist for each of the 998 original Cobras built in the 1960’s.

The AC Ace is the basis upon which the Cobra was built. Early Aces are particularly valuable as they may be eligible for entry into the Mille Miglia. This one was built a few years too late for Mille eligibility, but is still a very valuable item. It has a 2 litre, 6 cylinder Bristol engine that produces 120hp to push around its alloy body and tubular chassis.

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The new owner has apparently been searching for one of these for nearly 15 years. And as sometimes happens in these vehicular missions, he ended up finding the car quite close to home. The long-term owner was the original AC importer for South Africa. He bought the car to Tasmania when he moved here 30 years ago.

This owner passed away some time ago and the car has been sitting under a cover in the family home ever since. The new owner only secured his prize recently and had it at Classics today for the first time.

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Original AC Cobras routinely sell at auction for more than $1.5 million. One recently sold for $5.5 million!

The AC Ace doesn’t fetch as much as it’s more famous descendant, but it’s no slouch, either. A 1958 model sold by RM Auctions last year fetched $341,000.

Lotus Esprit in silver – I love the angles on these early Esprits. There’s almost no change in angle from where the bonnet of the car meets the windscreen.

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I’m also a big fan of two-spoke steering wheels.

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I hadn’t seen this Porsche 356 before but (to my untrained eye) it appeared to be finished to a very high standard indeed. A beautiful car.

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There was a good selection of Jaguar E-Types present today. This little group made for a nice little Italian tri-color effect.

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Given the bonnets were open, it would have been rude to not take a closer look 🙂

Turns out we had both a six cylinder and a twelve cylinder on display. Excellent!

The E30 BMW 318i below belongs to a friend of mine. He bought it at a bargain price as a project for he and his son to work on. It’ll be his son’s first car when he passes his licence.

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They’ve done a stellar job of recommissioning the car, sourcing all the parts either locally or online and doing all the work at home. It’s got a new camshaft, new wheels, suspension and stereo system (and probably much more that I don’t know about).

I had the pleasure of driving the little Bimmer a week ago and it was fantastic fun. It was much more perky than I expected. The lads should be proud.

This ‘stepnose’ Alfa Romeo Giulia GT is a Targa competitor. It was good to see it again, this time in daylight. It was a shame there weren’t more Targa cars present, actually. This Alfa and a Ferrari 360 (I think) were the only ones present.

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The rest of the photographed fleet from today includes a certain Porsche 928S that was sold later in the day. It’ll stay in my drive for just two more nights before heading about 15kms down the road.

The (Interesting) Cars Of Targa Tasmania 2015

Targa Tasmania has been on this week. As usual, Targa had it’s share of bumps and bruises. Four cars left the road on the same corner on Friday and organisers had to deal with a deliberate oil spill on the first full day of the event. There were no medical casualties, thankfully, but a stage of the event had to be cancelled.

Targa drivers covered 2000kms over the last week, with more than 500 of those kilometres at full tilt in timed stages. It’s the ultimate tarmac rally.

The major category winners:

Jason White won the Modern class in his Lamborghini Gallardo. It was White’s 5th Targa win.

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Craig Haysman won the Classic class in his Triumph TR7 V8.

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Tony Quinn won the Showroom class in his McLaren 650S

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The Targa fleet was on display in Hobart on Friday night so I popped down to Princes Wharf Shed #2 for a bit of a look-see. The conditions weren’t great for photos, but it was fun. I had a chance to catch up with one of my mates, Phil Blake, who was running his yellow Fiat Abarth in his umpteenth Targa. I’ll have to photograph all the Targa plates at his house one day.

Here are a few of my favourite pictures from the fleet….

Donald Duck adorning a stepnose Alfa Guilia.

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It’s always fun to drive a slow-car-fast.

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Another Alfa GTV.

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Passengers aside from the navigator aren’t usually allowed…..

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This Ford Escort Mexico was just beautiful.

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There were plenty of 911’s in this year’s race. This was my favourite pic, though not my favourite 911.

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An early Alfetta, minus its bumpers. Lovely.

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Phil showing me the rally computer in his Abarth. Compulsory equipment for every car.

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Ready to go…..

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Headlights on the Jensen CV8. This car has been in every Targa I’ve seen.

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Porsche 914-6. If it’s genuine, it’s a very rare car.

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Needs no description…..

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The winning Lamborghini was being held together by duct tape and cable ties by the end of the race.

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Apologies for getting a little bit artsy with this gallery, but I had a new lens on my camera and I thought I’d try out the filters on Apple’s new Photos app. The app runs like crap, but the filters turned out OK.

Click to enlarge.

Fantasy Friday: Opel GT

For a long time now, I have had a self-imposed commitment to never buy a car from the pus-infected abscess that is General Motors – except for a Saab. I can think of very few cars for which I might make an exception.

The Chevrolet Corvette might be one, in the right spec. Call me superficial, but I’m a C3 fan. The fact that they’re generally all power and very little handling doesn’t seem to matter. That big, curvy and purposeful front end gets me every time.

I must be going a bit soft in my old age because the Opel GT has become another GM-related product that I wouldn’t mind spending time with.

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The little Opel’s styling has often seen it described as a junior C3 Corvette. It’s a visually relevant comparison and they were designed in the same era. Sources I could find credit different designers in very different places, however, and the Opel fans like to contend that the little GT’s origins go back as far as 1962.

The Opel GT first showed as a concept in 1965 and then went on sale in MY1968. And yes, there are plenty of C3 comparisons with those dates because the car upon which the C3 was based, the Mako Shark II concept, was first shown in 1965 and the C3 went on sale – you guessed it – as a 1968 model year car.

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Whether planned or accidental, the look is undeniably familiar. From the high-riding curvy wheel arches at the front to the absence of external access to the limited trunk space. The Opel GT is a curvaceous little two-seater and time has treated it well.

Unlike its American cousin, the Opel GT wasn’t a powerhouse in the engine department. The GT followed the European tradition, employing a more lightweight construction in combination with a 4-cylinder engine. The base engine was a tiny 1.1 litres and made just 67hp. Most buyers opted for the more potent 1.9 litre engine, with its 102hp. US buyers of later model GT’s got a detuned version somewhere around 90hp thanks to emissions regulations in effect at the time.

102hp isn’t a lot, but thankfully the little GT weighed in at just 940kg in top spec. Sprinting wasn’t its forte – it rarely is with this type of car – but the GT 1.9 should have enough poke and a light enough body to have some fun in the twisties.

Opel made just over 103,400 GT’s. Surprisingly, around 70,000 of them were sold in the United States through the country’s Buick dealers.

It’s hard to get super-excited about the Opel GT given that I’ve never actually seen one or driven one myself, but here are a few things I like about the Opel GT from afar:

  • The styling. I’ve written enough about this already.
  • The sound from the twin pipes that people put on them. You can get a rorty note from the Opel 4-cylinder, which is essential for the right driving experience.
  • The dashboard – just the right amount of 60’s/70’s black and sporty styling.
  • The headlamps. Watch the video below. They look like they’re flipping pancakes!

The video is in German, but it has some good driving footage of a tuned 1.9 GT. Skip to 4:15 if you just want to see the headlamps 🙂

Some useful Opel GT resources…..

A great article at Hemmings magazine that gives a good overview and all the tech specs.

The Opel Motorsport Club is a US-based operation that heaps of info about the car, including buyer guides, maintenance and tuning.

Winds of Change.

I had a small reminder today. A reminder that things are changing, moving on. I’m only 45 years old but the signs seem to come with increasing frequency now.

The first time I ever felt slightly ‘aged’ was near the end of 2007.

The one constant through my conscious lifetime has been Australian Rules Football. The end of 2007 saw the retirement of James Hird, Nathan Buckley and Kevin Sheedy from their respective roles in Australian football.

Sheedy had been the coach of one of Melbourne’s powerhouse teams for 27 years – since I was 10 years old. He was an elder statesman of the game and loomed large over the entire football landscape. Even if you hated his team, it was hard to think of Sheedy as anything other than a football father figure.

More pointed, however, were the retirements of Hird and Buckley. Their retirement as players stung because they were the last men close to my generation who played the game. The game I’d grown up with – the game I’d always felt young enough to play with my mates – was now being played wholly by young men a generation removed from my own.

That made me feel old.

I’m sure you’ve all seen this image somewhere on the web before:

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On a related subject…..

About 10 years ago I spent hours and hours building a wonderful cabinet for all my CD’s. It turned out really well, too.

Today, I think it’s been at least 4 years since I actually played a CD in a CD player. In fact, the only CD players we own now are a Playstation 4 inside the house (I assume it’d play a CD if I asked it) and a CD player in my Subaru Brumby. The last car stereo I bought didn’t even include a CD player. It’s purely a media player, finding its songs either from a USB drive or via Bluetooth.

I think the compact disc might just be the first significant technology to both emerge and become (almost completely) redundant within in my lifetime. Maybe the video cassette recorder took that honour first. It probably did.

So today…..

It was just a little thing, but it was just another sign that things have changed.

Today I had to write some notes as part of an audit I’m doing. Most of my audit notes are done directly into my workpapers, which are on my computer. Today I decided to draft some preliminary notes on paper. It’s not unusual to sketch things out on paper, but that’s usually just a few words with a lot of underlining/arrows and a bunch of doodles.

Today’s notes took a whole page.

What I learned at the end of that page was that 10+ years of writing on computers has completely ruined my ability to write in cursive script. The paper looked like a long prescription written by a 95 year old doctor. My ability to write with my own hand has been severely depleted and it’s largely down to the march of progress.

I can now type a lot quicker, with greater accuracy and much greater legibility than what I can write.

Football has moved on but I still enjoy the game immensely.

I find myself completely accustomed to digital music and I’ve even considered taking my CD’s to Cash Converters and breaking up the cabinet I built. It’s not much use for anything else.

But losing the ability to write in a presentable manner with my own hand feels like a genuine point of concern. I’ve never been a great practitioner of penmanship, but it feels like a basic skill that all people should try to hold on to.

If you’ve got any notable stories of time changing while you weren’t looking, feel free to share them in comments.

Let’s age (dis)gracefully together 🙂

The Saab Car Museum Support Organisation

I’m grateful to Alex at Saabtala for posting about the Saab Car Museum Support Organisation last week. I didn’t even know this group existed prior to that post and for those of you who missed it, I figured it might be worth writing about it here. I’ve just sent through my support donation and I think it’d be worthwhile if you consider doing the same.

Ursaab-getting-som-airThe Saab Museum is the spiritual home of Saab Automobile. Peter Backstrom, Ola and their crew of contributors and volunteers do a sensational job of keeping Saab’s legacy alive. The Museum is visited by thousands of people every year and this year, once again, it’ll be the central hub for activities linked to the Saab Festival.

Picture: Saabs United.

The Saab Museum nearly went under a few years ago when the Swedish debt agency went and put stickers all over the cars, marking them as items to be secured for sale. Thankfully, the city of Trollhattan stepped in along with Saab AB and the Wallenburg family to secure the immediate future of the Museum.

That doesn’t mean the Museum is flush with funds, however. It cost money to save the Museum but it costs more to run it on an ongoing basis, too.

That’s where you come in.

The Saab Car Museum Support Organisation is a non-profit organisation, set up to allow supporters of the Museum to ‘join’ and provide a small amount each year in support of the Museum’s activities. The fee is 200SEK per year, which is around A$30 in my money, or $22 American dahllahs. Payment can be made by PayPal or a number of other means.

Click here to go to the membership page.

Thanks in advance for your support. And please make plans to visit the Saab Museum some day. June 5-7 would be perfect, as that’s when the 2015 Saab Festival will be on.

Whether it’s this year or another year, though, make sure you get there. It’s a truly magical place.

Why Cars?

A little bit of personal philosophy to start the week…..

I’ve been in a position recently to think about why some of us obsess about cars so much. I remember a time back in 2011, a year or so after the sale of Saab to Spyker was completed, but when Saab were beginning to show the first signs of trouble. I was still writing Saabs United at the time and there was much debate going on about how things were going under Victor Muller’s leadership. I was a stout defender of Victor but there were a number of people who were critical. Some of them were extremely strong in their opinions.

There was one guy in particular, a guy so vehement in his criticism that he became one of the half-dozen or so people that I banned during my 7 years as a website administrator, after which he continued the tirade via email.

Most of the bullets he fired were a complete waste of time but one theme rang true – why are you doing this? Why do you spend so much time writing about this situation at Saab? Why do you write about cars so much? Is it really a productive use of your time? Does it benefit the world at all? Are you making the world a better place when there are people dying of preventable causes in various parts of the world and you’re sitting there writing obsessively about Saab cars?

It was a fair question then, and it remains so today.

Why cars? Why so much time spent on learning about them? Discussing them?

Are cars worthy?

Yes. I think they are.

The liberation of mass transport

From Karl Benz through to Armand Peugeot, Giovanni Agnelli, Henry Ford and Ferdinand Porsche, cars progressed from being indulgences for the elite to true instruments of mass liberation, bringing a modern world to a society hungry for progress.

Cars expand our collective horizon. They take us to meet new people and experience new places with greater efficiency than we ever had before.

Cars mean that we’re no longer bound to villages or even regions like our ancestors. Trips that took days just a century ago are now completed in hours, in air-conditioned comfort with Bluetooth audio and satellite navigation.

They say travel broadens the mind. It used to refer to inter-territorial travel but the car has made that accessible to nearly everyone. Today such a saying refers to international travel only. Anyone can explore the land they’re connected to, primarily because of the car.

Social mobility

That old village mentality is a thing of the past. Distance is not the barrier it used to be. Cars now carry families and friends to meet together every day. They carry them across town, or across the country.

Cars carry boyfriends and girlfriends to their first dates and a few years later they might just carry the same kids to their wedding.

Cars bring babies home from hospital for their first night under the family roof, just as they also carry the departed to their final resting place.

Economic Mobility

Cars carry pimply 15-year-olds to their first jobs. A few years later they carry them to university.

They carry mobile locksmiths, gardeners, plumbers, pet groomers, bankers, builders and baristas. A vehicle can be a workhorse, a mobile office or even a mobile showroom.

And then there’s the car industry itself, which employs millions around the world. These people work with cars their whole lives – driving them, designing them, building them, fixing them, financing and selling them. Cars have driven advancements in technology, whether it be in safety systems, cutting edge materials, engine efficiency or manufacturing processes – the automotive sector is a hub for innovation in all sorts of fields.

Cars are also the lifeblood of a number of critical industries. They generate huge dollars in manufacturing and in all forms of advertising. There’s a dedicated aftermarket industry serving a vast number of custom vehicle tastes. If you can dream it, someone out there can take your money and build it.

I don’t think we’ll see another too-big-to-fail decision like we saw with GM at the beginning of the global financial crisis. But don’t let that lull you into thinking that the automotive industry has become a lesser player in terms of driving research and development. Car companies remain at the cutting edge of consumer-oriented industry and the dollars they spend on contractors and suppliers generate dollars elsewhere in the economy.

Cars Bring Joy

There’s the joy of the first date, the first baby’s homecoming, and the joy of occasions with family and friends. But there are other times when the car is an intrinsic part of the joyful experience.

The thrill of your first drive.

The joy you have on the right road trip in the right car with the right song on the stereo and the right people in the car with you.

The joy of a winding road shared with you friends in their cars, travelling together for a lunch somewhere. Or just travelling.

The joy people get from artistic automotive design. Yes, cars can be art, just like your favourite chair, desk lamp or wrist watch. Good industrial design is an art form all of its own.

There’s joy in preserving an old car and joy in driving it. The joy of gathering around an old car with friends and fixing it together. Eric Bana said in his film “Love The Beast” that his Ford Falcon coupe was like a campfire that he and his mates would gather around, telling stories while they worked on the car together.

For some people, these moments lose their lustre fairly quickly but for many, they endure for a lifetime.

Social Good

Those of us who spend a lot of time in the automotive sphere aren’t curing cancer. We’re not running a food bank or getting people off drugs. But don’t discount the enormous social good provided by the automobile over the last century or so.

Cars carry medicines to people in need. Their derivatives carry sick people to hospitals. They carry police and even soldiers to defend the places we live. Cars carry food to the hungry.

Cars changed the world. And while they’re not always used for good, the net effect of their invention has been overwhelmingly positive.

So are cars worthy?

I like to think they are. Cars are often the second most expensive investment that people make in their lifetime. We design cities around the need to move from place to place. Our world has become dependent on mobility.

But more than that, cars are intrinsically interesting. The engineering. The potential for man and machine to form an experience.

Put simply, cars bring happiness to a lot of people. It’s not curing cancer – I’ll leave that to the doctors – but sharing some of that happiness and trying to inspire it in other isn’t a bad thing, is it?

Press: NEVS Has Exited Reorganisation

The press release……

Nevs has exited the reorganization

The District Court of Vänersborg has today, April 15, 2015 decided that the reorganization of Nevs shall cease as the purpose of the reorganization is fulfilled.

The reorganization of Nevs was initiated August 29, 2014 for a period of three months. The reorganization was prolonged for a period of three months at two occasions, December 11, 2014 and March 11, 2015.

On March 23, 2015 the District Court of Vänersborg approved the composition proposal by Nevs after a vote where 98,2 percent of the creditors representing 98,6 percent of the amount of the debt was in favor for the composition. On April 14 The District Court’s approval of the composition became legally valid.

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Yep. That’s the whole thing.

For those of you who nodded off during this whole episode (don’t feel ashamed, it was an easy thing to do), here’s a quick primer……

How did we get here?

Well, in short and in general…..

NEVS started life with a somewhat suspect business plan. Then they took on a Chinese partner that:

  1. insisted they depart from their electric-only business plan and build petrol driven cars, and
  2. failed to come up with the money they promised.

Without that cash injection and with money tied up in the development of cars they never really intended to make, NEVS were severely short of cash. They couldn’t pay their suppliers and went into ‘Reorganisation’ in August 2014.

There were a lot of hairy moments along the way and Kai Johan Jiang quite likely no longer has a pot to pee in nor a window to throw it out of, but they survived.

NEVS had promised all along that suppliers would receive payment in full but they had to renege on this promise and do a deal with a number of suppliers. According to TTELA, 469 out of 573 suppliers that are owed money will get paid in full. A good effort, really.

The supplier deal was the final hurdle to exiting reorganisation and with yesterday being the final day for protests to be lodged (and with none being lodged), NEVS were clear to petition the court to allow them to exit from Reorg.

And what does it all mean for the future?

NEVS have consistently stated that they’re in negotiations with a couple of potential partners who want to buy in to the business. The exit from Reorg clears the way for this to finally happen.

The persistent rumour is that it’s Mahindra who will buy a controlling stake in the company, with another development partnership with Dong Feng. Recent mumblings have also spoken of other companies wanting to use the production facilities at Trollhattan to provide some extra capacity for their own needs.

The identity of the potential partners has not been revealed officially, so we’ll have to wait and see if those rumours are correct.

Either way, it shouldn’t be long now until the future path for NEVS is made more clear.

I’ve never been a huge fan of NEVS’s strategy or communication methods but I’ve always been a fan of the Saab badge and the city of Trollhattan. Kudos to NEVS for actually navigating their way through the storm, but here’s to someone else coming in and providing funds and a business plan that’s realistic, understandable and achievable.

Griffin Up!

Apr 14 – NEVS Should Exit Reorg Today

UPDATE: According to Tom at Saabtala, the exit from reorganisation is likely to be tomorrow. That’s contrary to the story at TTELA but Tom’s been on the phone to the court so the information should be reliable. Whether it’s today or tomorrow is neither here nor there, by dinner time on the 15th NEVS should be free to make a deal.

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Just a reminder…..

Today should be a significant day for NEVS and the potential for any future cars with a Saab name attached to them.

According to their own press materials late last month, and a story on SU last week, NEVS have applied to exit their court-protected reorganisation and come out into the real world.

From their March 23 press release:

Nevs intends to apply for exiting the reorganization as soon as the composition is legally valid in mid-April.

“A composition was needed for Nevs to exit the reorganization in order to be able to sign commercially viable agreements with our OEM and financial partners we have been in dialogue with for a long time.

And from the SU story….

According to the local newspaper ttela.se and to SwerigeradioP4 NEVS has applied to the court to terminate the reorganization period on the 14th of April.

Assuming all goes well, it shouldn’t long until we see a new majority stakeholder in the company and hopefully, some clearer direction as to where they’re going to go.

Is it Mahindra?

Are they able to use the Saab name?

Will they maintain their Swedish roots, including some manufacturing?

Will the proposed model mix remain as NEVS had planned?

We won’t be able to answer those questions today, but hopefully today will see the first step taken in a successful Saab journey. I think we could all do with some good news from Trollhattan.

The exit will likely happen while I’m asleep (these things always do) so feel free to keep one another informed in comments.

Interesting times, folks. Interesting times.